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How Windows Manages Files- Associations II
On a previous page, we were introduced to file associations and their functions. Here we look at how the PC user can configure file associations.

Changing Associations

Many of us have had the experience of installing some new software only to find that, without asking, the installation has changed our file associations so that some of our favorite programs no longer work. Knowing how to manage file associations will allow you to take back control of your computer. There is a simple procedure to change the default action or to occasionally use a different program to open a file. Right-click on a file of the type whose associations you wish to edit. In the context menu click on "Open With". Selecting this entry will bring up a list of programs from which a selection can be made to open the file.

An example of the pertinent section of a context menu is illustrated in the picture shown above. Generally, this list contains any programs previously used to open the particular file type involved. The example shown in the picture is a text file, and for this file type there are a number of commonly used programs. If the list does not contain the desired program, select the entry Choose Program. This will open the dialog box "Open With" and in it you can look for an appropriate executable from all the files on the computer. (Click to see dialog box) In the lower part of the dialog box is an entry, "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file". Place a check there if you wish this program to be the default for opening the type of file in question. If you only want to use the program at this time, make sure to leave the box unchecked. This is the same procedure that was discussed in the section on unknown file types.

Another route to the "Open With" dialog box also involves a first step of right-clicking on a file of the type whose association you wish to change. In this method, the next step is to select "Properties" in the context menu. The Properties Sheet will open and the second graphic on this page shows the top portion of an example. The top part of the Properties Sheet lists the program that is currently associated to open the file type in question. In the example shown, the file type is HTML and the associated program for the action "Open" is Internet Explorer. To change the associated program, click the button "Change". This will open the same dialog box "Open With" that is mentioned above. (Click to see dialog box.) Note, however, that in this procedure a selected program will then automatically be associated to open the file type. (The entry, "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file", is grayed out.)

Next: Adding Associations